Monday, October 28, 2013

DIY Virginia Silhouette Wood Table

We are very excited to share this project! It had been on my mental list of future projects for quite some time and it was so fun to finally get it done a couple weeks ago. 
Added bonus: you don't need power tools or a large workspace to make it happen. Just make sure you have some adequate ventilation (open windows, fan, face mask) and you're good to go!

First, lets take a look at the Before:
*Disclaimer: Please, oh please, ignore the lighting in our apartment. I always hate it when people make this apology, but it truly is the worst.*
Joey and I found this metal and glass coffee table last month on clearance. Only problem: I can't stand glass table tops. Smudges are a constant plague (especially with two pets that insist on rubbing their noses on the underside) and the glass is always sliding around. And, I think it just looks plain ugly. But for such a small price tag, we figured we could get the table for the metal frame and just refinish the top. So home with us it went!

We had already collected some pallets a few weeks prior so I figured I could use those for the table top in an effort to make it as cheap a project as possible. Upon researching how to properly prep pallet wood for projects, however, I learned that pallets are potentially one of the worst materials you could use in the home. And being the rational yet germ/chemical-ophobe that I am, I decided I'd be much more confident in the safety of this table if I just bought new, clean wood. 

So if you're skeezed out by potential dangers of using pallets, here's what you do! Go to Lowes or Home Depot or whatever, head over to the lumber section, and pick up these super cheap 1x4x8's (or whatever size will work for your project). They have plenty of knots and distinct grain, giving the same feel as repurposed pallet wood. Plus, they're reasonably priced---I mean, at least I think they are; I'm no lumber expert, so.... Either way, for the four pieces I needed, plus a military discount, I got the wood for less than twelve bucks. Not too bad I'd say! Plus, we were able to have the store cut the wood for us, meaning tool-wise, the rest of the project simply required a hammer and hand saw.
First, Joey set to work measuring and cutting our support boards we used to assemble the table top. And yes, we did the sawing inside---nothing a little (long overdue) vacuuming can't fix!
Next we spaced out the three perpendicular boards, placed just right so the table top "locked" in to the table frame and won't slide around on top, and then took turns hammering all those nails. You'll notice the edges of the wood pieces are not perfectly aligned. Our pieces weren't quite even but hey! That worked for us. It added to the rustic, repurposed feel of the table so we kept it that way.
After sanding, sanding, sanding (which goes mighty fast with two people), my main task was up next: drawing the Virginia silhouette onto the table. And with some carbon tracing paper, it was a cinch! 
I just printed out a giant map of the state and, with the carbon paper placed between the table and the map, traced the outline with a pencil. Easy-peasy.
I spent the rest of the night painting the silhouette with three coats of white paint. And hey! If you got the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens, there's a Lowes coupon for a free sample of the Valspar paint I have here. But even without the coupon (I hadn't gotten it yet), it was only $2.98 for the 8oz jar. And the three coats took next to no paint at all, so I've still got plenty for other projects!

Once the white paint dried and I gave the table a quick wipe down, I set to staining the entire piece with Minwax Provincial stain---$4.77 for 8oz. I forgot to take a photo of this step soooo.......just pretend there's one right here.
After I had completed the painting and staining, the table waited for the weekend so Joey could apply the glossy polyurethane. Meanwhile, Marley napped...and napped some more.
We prepped the table with another wipe down with a clean cloth, and Joey applied two coats of the polyurethane while I watched from the other side of the glass door. What a guy! After that cured, a little super fine sand paper smoothed any tiny bumps from the coating. Then a final wipe down, and it was ready to make its living room debut.
Remy was curious about what I was doing and I just wouldn't get out of the shot. When I firmly told her "Remy, move!", this is what she did----
 Lets take a closer look at that mug, shall we?
 Yup, that's my dog.
 But back to the finished product! 
A repurposed, pallet wood vibe, without the dangers of pallet wood.
We love it and it turned out perfectly! Its so fun to have an idea and watch it come together just how you imagined it. And it doesn't hurt that it was a fairly cheap project and that we pulled it off with no power tools in our yard-less, garage-less state of apartment living. We love having a special piece that reminds us of where we started our life together and built so many special memories. And even though the second person that saw it exclaimed "Its Kentucky!" (Really. Really?) when they looked at it, it has already been a great conversation piece and we're very excited to share it with future guests.

And if you're feeling inspired, here's a list of the materials we used to create our new coffee table:

  • 1x4x8 Appearance grade plus pressure treated lumber (we used four, each cut in half)
  • 3 Thin boards (to run perpendicular to table top)---uhh, sorry, can't remember (or find online) what we used
  • Nails---sorry, not an expert on nails either; we just used about 40 from what we had at home
  • 100 Grit sand paper for smoothing wood
  • 220 Grit sand paper for finishing
  • Valspar 8oz paint sample, White
  • Minwax 8oz interior stain, Provincial
  • Minwax quart fast-drying gloss polyurethane
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Hammer
  • Hand saw
  • Drop cloth
  • Fabric cloth for staining
  • Rubber gloves for staining
  • Brushes for painting silhouette
  • Brush for polyurethane---and the polyurethane only!

Happy Monday!


  1. This is really cool, also don't all of those states look the same....? :)


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